Recap: Hundreds of Paddlers Brave ‘Au’au Channel to Raise Money for Maui County Cancer Community
This year’s Paddle for Life has raised over $225,000 so far for Maui County’s cancer community.
About 400 paddlers made the trek between Maui and Lāna’i over the weekend to benefit the Pacific Cancer Foundation.
“Every year there is more and more people,” Cori Friedman, one of the paddlers, said.
“I feel like we’re almost to the point where you almost have to turn people away because so many people are so excited about this paddle.”
Some of the paddlers refer to the 36-mile round-trip as a “spiritual journey.”
“Today’s journey, it was amazing,” Friedman added.
“There were paddlers on my crew that came from California, I’m from the big island currently, we’ve got Maui paddlers, we had people that have paddled before, people that haven’t paddled before, and it’s all one big team, one big ‘ohana.”
Uncle Kimokeo Kapahulehua started the annual fundraiser 11 years ago.
A few years later, his grandson, Jayden Potter-Wilson, was diagnosed with cancer.
“We found out when you were what, three? That he had child Leukemia,” Uncle Kimokeo’s wife, Ryn Kapahulehua recalled, standing beside their now 8-year-old grandson, Jayden Potter-Wilson.
“All of a sudden we had a new name for a team, we started paddling for Team Jayden, and now we’re Team Jayden Victory Voyagers because a year and a couple months, you’ve been done with all your treatments,” Ryn said.
The Pacific Cancer Foundation helped Jayden and his family travel to O’ahu for treatments.
After completing all his treatments, Jayden joined the Paddle for Life voyage for the first time last year.
“I almost got boat sick,” Jayden said.
Ryn then gently reminded Jayden, “But you do have a lot of people who love you and support you,” to which they both smiled.